South Jersey wrestling notes

The Cherry Hill West wrestling team has won its first division title in four years.

The Lions defeated Triton, 58-14, on Monday to win the Olympic Conference Patriot Division title.

That Timber Creek moved from the Patriot to the National Division and Pennsauken took the Chargers' place helped West's cause. However, the Lions have improved steadily since coach Zack Semar took over the program three years ago, as evidenced by their records: 7-15 in 2009, 8-15 in '10, and 17-10.

Athletic director Ira Kosloff says the coaching staff has resurrected the program, which was big in the 1970s. Semar's assistant is Greg Coolahan, a former head coach at West. A volunteer assistant coach is John Semar, Zack's father and a South Jersey Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee.

"The Semars and Coolahan bring interest and direction to the kids," Kosloff said. "I couldn't be happier."

Zack Semar acknowledges that the team didn't have the power points to make the playoffs this year, but next year is a possibility.

"With a lot of hard work, we can put ourselves in position [to advance in the postseason]; we'll have to wrestle a tougher schedule," Zack Semar said.

West Deptford's demise. John Craig went over the lineup before his West Deptford wrestlers took on visiting Buena in a semifinal of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 team tournament Wednesday night.

Craig, who guided the Eagles to the sectional title last season, said key bouts would be at 112, 140, 145, and 171. "And we'll need bonus points, too" to win, the sixth-year coach said.

The Eagles won those four bouts; however, bonus points were few and far between and Buena, the No. 3 seed, upset second-seeded West Deptford, 28-27.

Josh Gilliano pinned Buena's John Renner at 130 pounds to pull the Eagles to within 10 points, 19-9, and James Shields pinned Anthony Lopez at 152 to pull the Eagles to within 25-21.

Buena collected a pair of pins and a major decision to earn the win and the right to meet Delsea in the Chiefs' first sectional final since 2005.

Poor scheduling? After Timber Creek beat host Camden Catholic, 31-24, for the Olympic Conference National Division title, winning coach Nick Cottone lamented the scheduling of the match and the implications it had on the seeding for the forthcoming South Jersey Group 3 team tournament.

Timber Creek was seeded No. 3, behind Toms River South and Brick Memorial, respectively.

"The Olympic Conference puts out our schedule as far as who we wrestle and on what date," Cottone said. "They had us wrestling Washington Township and Camden Catholic on this day [Feb. 5], which is after the [Jan. 29] cutoff. These are two teams we could earn power points from and possibly get a higher seed.

"The way it worked out this year? We ended up wrestling a lot of teams with lower power ratings leading up to Jan. 29."

Cottone said he didn't mind taking his team on the road, but he'd rather wrestle at home. He said the Chargers traveled an hour and a half to wrestle at Brick, followed by another long drive to Toms River.

Short answer. Camden Catholic coach Jerry Boland had a good answer to a question about the Irish's back-to-back losses to Collingswood and Jackson Memorial before the match against Timber Creek.

"One was a speed bump [Collingswood]. The other was against a loaded team," Boland said.

 


Contact staff writer Bill Iezzi at 856-779-3826 or biezzi@phillynews.com.